Hammy Birthday Ohio!
One of the most popular features of the Garden Tour is Hammy Birthday Ohio, the Bicentennial pig. Hammy was created by Cincinnati area artist Robert Schack for the Big Pig Gig, a community art festival held in Cincinnati in 2000. Sponsored by the Ohio Bicentennial Commission, Hammy’s sides are decorated with paintings of a Bicentennial Barn and a corn field to commemorate Ohio’s agricultural history.
The Big Pig Gig was inspired by Cincinnati’s history as “Porkopolis” the chief pork packing center in the United States before the Civil War. During the early years of Cincinnati’s history, most farms raised a few pigs, because the animals could forage in the woods, providing a source of meat to farm families for little expense. By the 1820s southern Ohio farmers were growing corn which was fed to pigs, allowing farmers to transport their product “on the hoof” to slaughter houses in Cincinnati. Hogs in the city streets were a common sight. Frances Trollope, an Englishwoman who lived in Cincinnati in the late 1820s recalled in her book “The Domestic Manners of the Americans” (1832) “ . . . if I determined upon a walk up Main Street, the chances were 500 to one against my reaching the shady side without brushing by a snout fresh dripping from the kennel.”
By 1835 Cincinnati was the chief pork packing center in the country, in part because the city’s location on the Ohio River allowed easy transport to other parts of the nation. Chicago later replaced Cincinnati as the leader in the pork packing industry, but Cincinnati has not forgotten its heritage as “Porkopolis.”
Before coming to the Residence, Hammy Birthday Ohio was on display at Sawyer Point and in an office building in downtown Cincinnati. First Lady Emerita Hope Taft found the lovable pig at the Cincinnati Visitors Center and invited the Bicentennial Commission to share him with visitors to the Governor’s Residence. Hammy arrived at the Residence in May 2002 and has been a favorite of visitors ever since.